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Claudio Monteverdi, the roots of Opera

mardi 20 juin 2017

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  • Portrait of a viola player, Zacchia Paolo (?-after 1561)
    © RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Franck Raux
  • Scene from the Commedia dell'arte
    Photo (C) Archives Alinari, Florence, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Georges Tatge
  • Portrait of Eleanor of Toledo - Bronzino Studio
    Photo (C) The Wallace Collection, Londres, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / The Trustees of the Wallace Collection
  • The Three Ages of Man – Giorgione
    Photo (C) Archives Alinari, Florence, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Nicola Lorusso
  • The Visit of Henry III to Venice - Giovane Palma
    Photo (C) BPK, Berlin, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Hans Strelow

A film that follows in the footsteps of Claudio Monteverdi to three cities where he lived: Cremona, Mantua and Venice, each corresponding to a key stage in the journey of the composer and creator of opera. 

The career of Claudio Monteverdi, straddling the 16th and 17th centuries, places the development of opera into the historic and social context of the period. The story is told in this documentary, bathed in light of the Italian landscape.

On 24 February 1607, in the hall of mirrors in the Duke of Mantua's palace in Italy, a historic event occurred - the first ever performance of an opera! The opera in question was Orfeo, commissioned by Duke Gonzaga from his official composer Claudio Monteverdi. The aim was simple: to prove that this small duchy, halfway between Venice and Milan, could do better than the Medici family.

But where did the concept of "talking through song" come from? And above all, in what social, political, historical, cultural and moral environment did opera develop? Make no mistake, opera is not just a chapter in the history of music, but a demonstration of a new conception of the role of human creation in the world and more widely the role of humans within Creation itself.  This assertion of man's place in the world was one that Monteverdi would construct over time, influenced by the changes in thought during his era, and thinkers such as Copernicus, Galileo and Montaigne.

The career of Claudio Monteverdi, straddling the 16th and 17th centuries, places the development of opera into the historic and social context of the period. The story is told in this documentary, bathed in light of the Italian landscape.

The origins of opera

With the birth of a completely new genre in 1600, anything was possible and nothing was excluded, as the rules would only come to be established at a later date. Free of restraints... for now. Excess, immoderation, such concepts did not exist.

In this music - with its almost dissonant qualities, we find the transposition of sentiments, feelings, emotions and events relayed.

The vocal and instrumental elements are very simple, almost linear. We hear, unavoidably, traces of Gregorian chant, the musical phrases in the opera of C. Monteverdi are short and simple in form. We find long recitations that hark back to a tradition based in the church mass... how could it be otherwise? The musical form was still in its infancy, from whence it would emerge through some of Monteverdi's greatest heirs, Scarlatti, Handel, Bach, then Haydn and Mozart for a century and a half after this happy birth.

 

Claudio Monteverdi, the roots of Opera. 

Directed by Philippe Béziat

65 mn

Narrated by André Wilms

Featuring Rinaldo Alessandrini, Christophe Rousset, Paolo Da Col, Nicholas Achten, Emmanuelle Haïm.

Camera Lucida Production

Broadcast on Arte Sunday 18 June and on Arte +7

 

See on Agence Photo website:


About Monteverdi

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